Tanking has always been a part of the NBA season. It dates back to the San Antonio Spurs tanking to get Tim Duncan or the Cleveland Cavaliers punting on the 2003 season for a chance to draft LeBron James.
However, Sam Hinkie and the Philadelphia 76ers made tanking a mainstream term when the Sixers decided to gut the team to extensively rebuild the team from the draft before Hinkie was removed from his position.
Thanks to the 76ers success this season, nearly a third of the league is tanking now in hopes of getting a generational talent like Ben Simmons or Joel Embiid. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has been clear on his thoughts of tanking including fining Mark Cuban $600,000 and recently warned the Bulls for resting players. But Silver knows that that the first overall pick is worth more than $600,000, so here are more ideas to limit tanking in the NFL.
The Bell Curve
Every year 14 teams miss the playoffs. Instead of starting the odds at the worst record, start them at the eighth worst record. Then, count down to the worst record with each slot getting slightly worse odds. Once the worst record is assigned their odds, fill out the remaining the percentages to teams 9-14. This will keep teams trying because they are incentivised to not have to worst record.
Teams are also not incentivised to tank out of the seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs because the odds are so poor that they could still win lottery. Teams will still tank, but now teams will strategically tank trying to finish closest to eighth or near the top of the bell curve.
The draft odds will be assigned in this order. (2=second worst record).
The Bulls were warned because they sat center Robin Lopez despite him being healthy to play. Lopez makes $13 million dollars this season meaning his game check would equal around $158 thousand dollars. If the NBA has further suspicion that Lopez is a healthy scratch they can medically test him. If Lopez was clear to play then the Bulls would be forced to pay Lopez’s game check to the opponent that night.
Teams will not be warned if the league suspects the team of tanking in this scenario.This is because if teams were told, they can then know whether or not the league is on to their tactics and have to be on their best behavior. Instead, they will be given a strike if the NBA has evidence that the team tanked. These tallies will be totalled before the draft and will limit where the team can finish in the lottery.
If a team receives three strikes, then they cannot finish within the top three of the draft. With five strikes the team cannot finish within the top 5 and so on. Teams can obviously challenge the strikes before the draft, but it would be difficult since the league will have access to all of the medical records of the teams.
Verdict: While it is the most complicated fix, the Bell Curve is the best way to eliminate tanking going forward. Teams will be forced to compete and create strategic thinking far more complex than the current form of tanking.